This Week In Tech And Telco: Facebook Is Surprisingly Fine

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While this edition focuses more on the tech side, you can let us know what telco news we've missed in the comments.

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Facebook given $5bn fine by FTC

Facebook is to be fined $5bn (ÂŁ4bn) by US regulators over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved the settlement with Facebook following an investigation into the social network’s handling of personal data belonging to 87 million users.

While details of the settlement still need to be finalised by the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the fine is set to be the largest the regulator has given to a tech company.

  • The social network can’t stay out of the headlines, with its plans to create a cryptocurrency keeping the spotlight shining. Libra has no doubt created a stir within the establishment, so much so that a proposal to prevent large technology companies from operating as a financial institution or digital currency issuer had been whirling through the House of Financial Services Committee.

"Like a toddler who has gotten his hands on a book of matches, Facebook has burned down the house over and over and called every arson a learning experience,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee to Facebook executive David Marcus.

But Facebook is proving resilient. Check out Carole Cadwalladr's thread on the news:

Bulgarian cybersecurity expert charged for country’s largest data breach

A Bulgarian cybersecurity researcher has been arrested and charged for hacking the country's national tax agency, compromising the personal data and financial records of every working adult in the country.

The NRA tax agency is now facing a fine of up to 20 million euros as a result of hack, which was “the country’s biggest-ever data breach”.

Telco and floppy disks
Every single adult in Bulgaria has had their data stolen. | Photo: Unsplash

Musk’s Neuralink ready to implant tech in humans

After an 87% success rate in 19 animals, Elon Musk’s Neuralink plans to start testing its technology, which records data from neurons in the brain to control external tech via thought, on human volunteers by next year.

A sewing-machine-like robot will be used to implant ultrafine flexible electrodes – thinner than a human hair – deep into the brain to detect neuron activity.

While the startup will soon seek U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for clinical trials beginning next year, its plans and time frame are ambitious but potentially life-changing for paralyzed patients’ to whom the initiative is targeted towards.

Musk isn’t the only one… Intel’s new AI chips imitate human brains

Intel’s new AI chip, the Pohoiki Beach, can crunch data 1,000 times faster and 10,000 times more efficiently than CPUs. With such capabilities, Intel aims to replicate the learning ability of a human brain.

Pohoiki Beach is an 8 million-neuron neuromorphic system containing 64 of its Loihi AI processors. And while the tech is still in its infancy, it’s now available to researchers and is already being used to help prosthetic limbs adapt to uneven ground.

Rich Uhlig, managing director of Intel Labs, predicts that the company will produce a system that's able to simulate 100mn neurons buy the end of 2019.

Intel aims to replicate the learning ability of a human brain.

MPs urge next PM to make quick decision on Huawei

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) said the lack of clarity is “damaging the UK’s international relationships”, urging Britain’s next prime minister to prioritize a decision on Huawei.

While the US is continuing to urge allies to block the Chinese tech firm from national 5G infrastructure, the UK is yet to confirm whether it will follow suit and block Huawei.

Meanwhile, network operators in the UK have began building next-gen infrastructure using Huawei technology for non-core elements, such as anenta. This could still be a costly move for them if authorities decide to ban the telecoms company entirely.

MPs have urged the next PM to make Huawei a priority.

What else we’re reading

  • Google has terminated Project Dragonfly, its plan for a censored Chinese version of the search engine. While the tech giant previously denied the project was ongoing, confirmation it’s been discarded entirely follows treason accusations from Trump. (Vox)
  • UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published a damning report saying that police trials of facial recognition “should be stopped and no further trials should take place until the right legal framework is in place”. (The Independent)
  • While many of us are celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11, that’s not the only space story today. China's Tiangong-2 space station is being deorbited and is scheduled to drop into the Pacific Ocean today. (TechCrunch)
  • Soon, satellites will be able to watch you everywhere all the time. BlackSky Global promises to revisit most major cities up to 70 times a day. (MIT)
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